In the seventh grade and bored with her schoolwork, Kerry Abrams turned to college guides for entertainment. She imagined herself attending a private liberal arts school on the East Coast, far from her suburban Seattle home, and preparing for a career in politics or psychology. But there was one future she ruled out entirely.
“I didn’t want to be a lawyer,” she says, “because my parents kept saying I would be a good lawyer. I didn’t want to do what they thought I should do.”
But her parents were right, and the law turned out to be a good choice for Abrams, who became the James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean on July 1. Over the past two decades, she has excelled as a litigator, legal scholar, law teacher, and university administrator. As a professor at the University of Virginia for 13 years, she emerged as a leading voice in not one but two ﬁelds — immigration law and family law — and opened up a new frontier of thought and scholarship at their intersection. And as UVA’s vice provost for faculty affairs since 2014, she tackled some of the academy’s most difﬁcult issues, earning praise for building consensus for positive change at a university steeped in history and tradition.
In the law’s many and varied paths, Abrams has found outlets for her prodigious talents: a keen intellect, a strong work ethic, innate curiosity and empathy, and a gift for leadership. Those qualities, combined with her diverse background, made her uniquely qualiﬁed among hundreds of candidates for her new job.
“No matter when you met her, you would have thought that Kerry had leadership potential in addition to incredibly high academic potential,” says Stanford Law Professor Emeritus Paul Brest, who was the school’s dean when Abrams was a student in the mid1990s. “I think Duke is just really lucky to be getting her.”
As Abrams assumes her post as the 15th dean of Duke Law School, the institution may be in the strongest ﬁnancial and reputational position in its history. During the 11-year tenure of her predecessor, David F. Levi, Duke Law launched a raft of new clinics, centers, and degree programs, grew its research faculty to 50 scholars, completed a $132 million fundraising campaign, and bested its peers on metrics such as student quality, employment outcomes, and bar passage.
But Abrams takes over at a time of tremendous change in the legal profession, including the lingering effects of the recession-era contraction in the legal economy and the looming threat of further disruption through such technologies as artiﬁcial intelligence and robotics. She is also facing increased public skepticism of the value of law school and higher education in general. Among her priorities will be to work with faculty, staff, students, and alumni to determine how to navigate those challenges while maintaining the excellence in teaching and scholarship and collegial culture that have made the institution stand out among the top law schools in the world.
“I think we are at a real turning point in a couple of ways right now and law schools can do really well or really poorly in the future,” she says. “Duke has weathered the storm brilliantly, but I don’t think the storm is over. I think the recession highlighted a lot of issues that are going to continue to be issues long into the future. We need to focus on our core doctrinal strengths, such as international law, corporate law, constitutional law, criminal justice, and intellectual property, while continuously asking ourselves how the practice of law and the structure of legal institutions are changing, and how those changes should be reﬂected in what we teach our students and how we teach them.
“We are living in a time where globalization and automation are changing the way we live at a remarkably rapid pace. We are also living in a time where the institutions that have supported democracies across the globe are under threat. At a time like this, we need lawyers more than ever. What Duke Law graduates bring to the table are exceptional interpersonal skills, ﬁne-tuned professional judgment, and deep sense of responsibility for the integrity of their profession and appreciation for the role of the rule of law in a just society. I couldn’t be more honored than to lead the school at this moment.”
Fulﬁlling that ambition will require determination and drive, and Abrams has them in spades. She made good on her dream of going east for college, winning acceptance at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. But her family was solidly middle-class — her father was an engineer, her mother a teacher who took several years off to raise her and her sister — and her parents let her know she would have to foot half the bill herself. So she set about securing scholarships and a summer job in the local Scott Paper plant, where her father was quality control manager.
The work was difﬁcult — her job was to grab defective paper towel rolls off the line and toss them aside, and it soon caused tendinitis in her arm — but it taught her a lesson about privilege, and she came back the next summer.
“I hadn’t thought that I came from a privileged background because I was having to come up with the money for college and we were not a wealthy family,” she says. “But then I realized how privileged I was. I was doing it just for the summer, and then I got to go to college, but I was working with people who were doing this really difficult work for their whole lives."
At Swarthmore, Abrams thrived in the famously rigorous academic environment with classmates who were, like her, eager to engage their curiosity and immerse themselves in intellectual pursuits. She majored in English and won a spot in the honors program, where there were no grades, classes consisted of weekly seminars lasting up to six hours each, and students from different disciplines were expected to collaborate and learn from each other.
Abrams assumed she would go to graduate school in English and then into academia, but she wasn’t ruling out other paths. After graduation, she found a job as an assistant in the college textbook division of St. Martin’s Press in New York. Her boss, the president of the company, gave her a high-level view into the book industry, which prompted her to think about a career in business; a former lawyer, he also encouraged her to think about a JD or an MBA as a faster route to a fulﬁlling career than slogging through the trenches of publishing houses. She had also begun to notice how many humanities PhDs were working alongside her, surviving on low wages because they were unable to ﬁnd faculty positions in their ﬁelds. Before long, she moved home and took on a series of jobs to help her pay for law school, including organist for a local church (she was a talented pianist), secretary for an adoption agency, and department store clerk during the holiday rush.
“Law school seemed like it left all those doors open: It left the ‘becoming a professor’ door open, it left the ‘running a business’ door open, and it also opened up this whole world of law,” she says. “I didn’t do it because I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I just thought that was one of many possibilities, and that I had some skills that would be appropriate to the job.”
Learning a new language
During her ﬁrst semester at Stanford, Abrams resisted being taught to think like a lawyer. She struggled with her ﬁrst exams, thinking her professors expected her to come up with new legal theories when what they really wanted her to do was spot the legal issues. But in her spring Constitutional Law class, taught by legendary scholar and litigator Kathleen Sullivan, it began to click: Law was a foreign language and she had to learn the rules before she could engage her creativity to push the boundaries of it.
“I was seeing the social issues behind the law, the politics behind the law, the applications of political theory behind the law,” she says. “And eventually, there was a space for all that. But in the ﬁrst semester, I just needed to know what the Mailbox Rule was and be able to apply it.”
She also recognized that while she was a strong writer, she wasn’t as adept at oral advocacy. So instead of leaning into her strengths, she did moot court in her second year and was co-president of the board as a 3L. She also co-chaired Women of Stanford Law and helped start a chapter of the ACLU, which did pro bono research
on LGBT rights issues. Dean Brest, upon learning of her musical ability, invited her to join a chamber group that occasionally played at his house.
But Stanford’s most lasting impact on Abrams likely came through her relationship with Janet Halley, a former English professor who had earned her JD and joined the faculty to teach Family Law. Halley hired Abrams as a research assistant, asking her to delve into humanities and social science scholarship to identify theoretical work that could inform the professor’s study of the legal regulation of families. They pared the resulting material — ideas about the makeup and function of the family that Abrams collected from philosophy, ﬁction, women’s studies, and other ﬁelds — down to two binders. Halley still uses the material in her teaching and research, crediting “the Kerry Abrams binders” with helping propel her as a family law scholar.
“I always had my eye out from the very beginning for people at Stanford with academic potential and Kerry just leapt out as such a person,” says Halley, now the Royall Professor of Law at Harvard. “She was linking between the practice dimensions of the school and the scholarly dimensions so smoothly that I just knew that she was an academic in the making.
“Being attuned to literature makes me alert to things that some people differently trained won’t see, and Kerry was seeing those things.”
Indeed, in Halley, who would become a mentor, Abrams saw the opportunity to connect disciplines to look at the law in new ways, continuing the interdisciplinary study she had begun in her Swarthmore seminars. “She helped me see how I could bridge those two worlds and how some of my literary background was applicable to thinking about law,” Abrams says.
Warming to legal practice
At the same time, she began warming to the idea of practicing law. She spent her 1L summer at Preston Gates and Ellis (now K&L Gates) in Seattle and thinking the book business still intrigued her, she applied for a 2L summer position at Patterson Belknap, a New York ﬁrm that counted major publishing and media companies as clients. When she didn’t get a response, she contacted a partner and persuaded him to let her drop his name with the recruiter. The partner agreed, she got the job, and at the end of the summer, an offer to come back after graduation.
First, though, she clerked for U.S. District Judge Stanwood R. Duval, Jr. of the Eastern District of Louisiana. Her ﬁrst round of clerkship applications had been rejected, but she kept looking until she landed one. The job, in New Orleans, introduced her to diversity jurisdiction cases and maritime and admiralty law — “it was like having a foreign exchange experience,” she says — but it also showed off her writing and managerial talent. “Even as a young person, she had administrative skill, a certain way of handling things that was above her chronological age,” says Duval. “It was obvious to me for many reasons she was going to do well.”
When Abrams arrived at Patterson Belknap after passing the bar, she dug into the commercial litigation that was the ﬁrm’s bread-andbutter: medical device patent disputes, trademark work for toy giant Hasbro, a libel suit against Time magazine brought by Indonesian strongman General Suharto. The ﬁrm’s intelligent and friendly atmosphere and small-for-Biglaw scale suited her, and she took pleasure in helping her clients.
“She was very smart, she was creative, she was hard-working, and I always appreciated that she had an ability to think outside the box,” says Lisa Cleary ’83, Patterson Belknap’s co-chair and managing partner. “I love women like Kerry who possess great self-conﬁdence. It’s critical to being a successful litigator and trial lawyer.”
Patterson Belknap’s commitment to pro bono work also engaged Abrams. After handling a number of eviction cases on behalf of low-income residents of New York’s Chinatown, she was asked in her second year at the ﬁrm to take on a disability case against an adult home in Queens suspected of inducing mentally disabled men to have unnecessary prostate surgeries in exchange for Medicaid kickbacks. Abrams dove into it, writing the complaint in the midst of trial in one of her patent cases, drafting the pleadings when the defendants moved to dismiss the case, and appearing in court opposite “an army” of much more experienced defense lawyers representing the home, the hospital, the doctors, the social worker, and the social work agency.
Much to her surprise, the judge denied all of the defendants’ motions. Abrams logged 800 hours that year managing discovery. The case prompted a front-page investigation in The New York Times and eventually was settled for nearly $10 million in a substantial victory for clients represented by the ﬁrm and several public interest organizations. “Kerry went toe-to-toe with all of those lawyers and she was not fazed by their much more substantial experience or by their experience in this kind of case,” says Cleary, who, as pro bono partner at the time asked Abrams whether she would be interested in joining the team.
A mentor and a teacher
After three years, Abrams had developed a reputation at Patterson Belknap for raising her hand to tackle the thorniest legal questions that arose in her cases. She was fascinated by the history of civil rights statutes at the heart of the claims in the adult home case, but she was equally interested in patent procedure in an IP case. Being a lawyer was engaging her intellect and curiosity, and she had an array of career options in front of her, among them in-house counsel, prosecutor, and public interest advocate.
But for all of her success as a young associate, Abrams remained conﬂicted about her career. She threw herself into working with summer associates. She took charge of the ﬁrst-years. She angled for a seat on the hiring committee. Her colleagues had to remind her that grooming young lawyers wasn’t her main job, litigating cases was.
“I was thinking that the thing that really gives me satisfaction is mentoring people,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘Where is that the main job?’”
The answer, she realized, was in the academy. That spring, she learned from a friend about an unexpected opening at New York University. In a bit of serendipity, its law school had over-enrolled its class and needed one more teacher for its 1L lawyering program. If she got the job, she could spend up to three years developing her teaching and research and readying herself to be a law professor.
The next day she applied. She was hired, and just a few weeks later, started her new career.
At NYU, Abrams joined a cadre of talented young lawyers with their eyes on the academic job market. Their job was to teach small sections of students the basic professional skills they would need for practice, such as legal writing, negotiation, and oral advocacy. The program emphasized simulations, problem-solving, and other active learning techniques, and the instructors worked together to learn from each other’s experiences in the classroom, even taking part in each other’s role-playing activities. Abrams loved the collaborative environment and reveled in the freedom the job afforded her to, among other things, be a full-time mentor. At ﬁrst, when students or colleagues would pop into her ofﬁce, she couldn’t help watching the clock in six-minute increments, as she had when she was tracking her billable time as an associate. But her body eventually got used to the fact that a big part of her job was being available to help others.
“It was clearly the right career move for me,” says Abrams. “I wasn’t unhappy at the law ﬁrm, I just wasn’t ﬂourishing in the same way that I did once I became a professor.”
In 2005, with a research agenda emerging around family law and immigration law, Abrams joined the faculty at UVA along with her husband, criminal law scholar Brandon Garrett. The classes were different — she was teaching her ﬁrst doctrinal courses — but she strove to incorporate the evidenced-based methods of engaging students and making abstract subject matter real that she had honed at NYU. In Immigration Law, her students began the course by investigating and writing their own families’ histories of coming to North America. In Family Law, she assigned negotiation exercises in which students simulated advocating for a parenting plan for children in a divorce settlement. Her upper-level courses featured frequent writing assignments and opportunities for workshopping and feedback on papers.
“She was able to open up a space, maybe more effectively than anyone I’ve seen, [to get] students to talk with each other as opposed to just talking to us,” says Anne Coughlin, the Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
Professor of Law at UVA, who co-taught seminars on marriage law and law and literature with Abrams. “She had a way of identifying what kinds of questions were going to animate the students and get them engaged with each other.
“One of the hallmarks of her teaching is just this unselﬁsh commitment to helping the students improve the quality of their thinking and improve the quality of their writing.”
Says Kent Piacenti, an associate with Vinson & Elkins in Dallas who co-wrote an article with Abrams as a 3L: “She was really good at communicating her passion for her classes’ subject matter and also really good at explaining how each topic ﬁt into the big picture. She always took the time to provide thoughtful answers to students’ questions.”
‘Exactly what I wanted to do’
Academia afforded Abrams an intellectual and creative freedom that she relished, too, or as she puts it, “getting to do exactly what I wanted to do.” Brest, the former Stanford dean, had encouraged her to open herself up to scholarly topics that genuinely interested her. That encouragement led her to a set of questions she had ﬁrst explored as a research assistant at Stanford investigating the theoretical underpinnings of family law. How do law and culture interact? Where does one end and the other begin, and how do they inﬂuence or control each other? She began to think about how, when people move from one place to another, they bring with them certain cultural assumptions and practices, many having to do with families. What happens when those assumptions and practices, such as their vision of marriage or their approach to childrearing, come into conﬂict with the norms of the place to which they have migrated? How does the law respond?
“I didn’t realize at the time that I was writing about immigration law,” she says. “But pretty quickly as I started working on this project, I realized, ‘OK, this is either family law or immigration law. I’m not sure which.’ And then in my scholarship, I ended up arguing that it’s both and that they’re related.”
Her ﬁrst article traced the history of an obscure 1875 U.S. statute that denied entry to prostitutes from China. The Page Law was the federal government’s ﬁrst attempt at regulating its borders through restrictive immigration legislation. It was not explicitly race-based, unlike the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act enacted seven years later, but it targeted a racial and national group by enforcing a cultural norm of marriage: Second wives and concubines were common in Chinese society, but under the statute, they were excluded as “lewd or debauched.” By examining the Page Law in the context of an era in which the nation’s control over immigration was nascent and contested, Abrams showed how legislators used cultural norms of family structure and sexual morality to expand federal power.
A subsequent article looked at a different kind of migration — the settlement of the West. The Donation Land Act, which gave land to people who moved to the Western Territories in the 19th century, offered twice as much to men who came with wives. And unlike the restrictions placed on Chinese women who attempted to immigrate, migration of European and American white women was encouraged — even when it appeared to be coerced or the women could have been categorized as “lewd or debauched.” Abrams argued that the concept of “immigration law” should be expanded to include not only restrictive immigration laws, such as the Page Act, but also laws that fostered immigration, such as the Donation Land Act and the Homestead Act, as well as the absence of law, such as the understanding of white immigration as “settlement” seemingly not in need of legal regulation.
In addition to this historical work, Abrams analyzed how contemporary immigration law regulates the family and how cultural notions of family affect immigration law. In one early article, Abrams identiﬁed the various ways in which immigration law regulates marriage for immigrants and citizens who are married to immigrants, and how these federal immigration law rules often functionally override state family law rules. Another analyzed how
immigration and citizenship law diverge from state family law rules of parentage and paternity, and one more explored the various reasons why family-based immigration would be a desirable policy tool for lawmakers.
This melding of immigration and family law scholarship, enriched by deep historical and cultural analysis, marked Abrams as a path-breaking thinker. Says Harvard’s Halley: “Kerry was the person who taught me [that] a lot of family law is not in the family law course.”
Abrams says she knew that exploring the intersection of the two ﬁelds would produce insights that would have real-world application, but the arguments she was making were largely historical and theoretical. That changed with the 2016 presidential election and its focus on immigration. In a paper delivered at the 2017 Association of American Law Schools conference in San Francisco just two months after President Trump’s victory, she noted that the need for secure borders must be balanced with the longstanding national interest in keeping families together, including those separated by immigration. Three weeks later, when the Trump admin-
istration banned citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations and refugees from entering the U.S., she began working with colleagues on amicus briefs that made a similar argument in challenging the actions on constitutional grounds.
“I had been working on this subject for the last 13 years but not thinking of myself as the person who would be making these arguments to a court,” she says. “But then in this moment, I was able to use what I had written for a particular purpose, which turned out to be pretty satisfying.”
Says Hiroshi Motomura, an immigration scholar at UCLA Law School and a co-author on the travel ban briefs: “A central theme in Kerry’s work has really been to engage with the complexities of the family and the border, and that’s exactly what the travel ban case involves.”
“I’ve learned so much from her work over the years,” he adds. “Her scholarship has always impressed me as exceptionally deep and broad at the same time. It reﬂects vision and perception.”
Listening and leading
In 2011, Abrams was named the Albert Clark Tate, Jr., Research Professor of Law at UVA, and in 2012, she won the law school’s award for excellence in scholarly research. Two years later, she was asked by John Simon, UVA’s provost (and a former Duke professor and administrator) if she would consider joining his ofﬁce as vice provost for faculty affairs.
She had served as the law school’s representative in the Faculty Senate for the prior three years, the last of them as chair of its Academic Affairs Committee, and the role had given her a new perspective on the breadth of the university and the opportunity to work with people from across the institution. But joining UVA’s academic leadership would make her responsible for a range of critical issues affecting 2,800 faculty, including recruitment and retention, tenure and promotion decisions, and diversity, inclusion, and equity. With two young children at home, she wasn’t sure she wanted such a demanding role, but she warmed to it as time went on.
“I had a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, and I wasn’t sure I wanted such an all-consuming job,” Abrams says. “John assured me that we could work it out, and we did, and I’m really glad that I did it.”
One of her ﬁrst tasks was to revamp the university’s policy on non-tenure track faculty. These faculty, many of whom are women, were sometimes treated differently than their colleagues who were eligible for tenure, or encountered limited opportunities, says Molly Bishop Shadel, a UVA law professor. Addressing the inequities required Abrams to ask uncomfortable questions and risk upsetting the friendly faculty culture, but she didn’t shy away from the challenge, Shadel says.
“Kerry said we need to ﬁgure out policy that enables everybody to succeed, and our goal should be to try to enable every faculty member to do their very best work and feel valued and included and want to stay here,” she says.
After hearing from a task force that looked closely at affected jobs across the institution, Abrams and her team began a years-long process of drafting and re-drafting language, sharing it in a variety of settings, and listening to feedback so they could understand people’s concerns. Hundreds of faculty from throughout the university participated, with many of the ﬁnal provisions appearing as a direct result of the input they provided in those sessions. In the end, the new policy established a career path and a level of status and security that hadn’t existed before.
Archie Holmes, vice provost for academic affairs at UVA, connects Abrams’s success collaborating broadly across disciplinary lines to solve problems to her strong sense of empathy and desire to learn about others. At his request, she regularly met with a group of student leaders who were concerned about faculty diversity, inviting their input into the university’s recruiting practices. “I think you need that level of real curiosity to really try to understand what’s going on so you can help people understand the options available to them and help them make the best decision,” says Holmes, a professor of electrical and computer engineering.
There was adversity, too. Her tenure in the provost’s ofﬁce coincided with a tumultuous time for the university and its leadership that included a Rolling Stone article falsely accusing fraternity members of a brutal sexual assault and, last August, a rally in Charlottesville of white supremacists that erupted into deadly violence.
Says Abrams: “Although I wouldn’t wish those experiences on anyone, there is always potential in a crisis to recommit to your core values and use the experience as an opportunity to improve. I tried to respond to these events productively.” Following the Rolling Stone article, Abrams helped with a redrafting and implementation of the university’s sexual assault policy. She responded to the white supremacist rallies by redirecting her provost’s ofﬁce team to focus on programs and courses for faculty teaching them how to discuss difﬁcult events in the classroom and on the racial history of the town and university.
Law professor Coughlin says Abrams played a critical role in helping the faculty through the multiple crises in the community over the last several years. “She was a steady, steadfast, trustworthy presence during a very difﬁcult period. It was a time when people were distracted and it was difﬁcult to get work done, but she persevered and she helped us continue to ﬂourish.”
‘Sweet spot’ for Duke
When the search began for a new dean of Duke Law School last summer, Abrams’ success in a top administrative role coupled with her reputation as a leading scholar in her ﬁeld made her an obvious candidate. Laurence R. Helfer, the Harry R. Chadwick, Sr. Professor of Law and chair of the search committee, says her name came up multiple times as Duke sought recommendations from higher education leaders. As members of the committee got to know her, she quickly rose to the top of the candidate pool.
Abrams, they found, was an excellent listener. She had demonstrated an ability to build consensus at UVA through thorough close consultation with others. And she pledged to do the same as dean, saying she wanted to hear from its faculty, staff, students, and alumni before deciding what actions she might take. Her ﬁrst year would be “mostly a year of listening,” she said in a visit to campus as a ﬁnalist for the job, but with an eye to nurturing those parts of the institution that had “forward momentum.”
“I think so many things are going right at Duke that I would view my role as not being a change agent so much as coming in and ﬁguring out what is going really well and then what can I give a boost to,” she told faculty and senior staff during a Nov. 30 presentation at the Law School.
Margaret H. Lemos, the Robert G. Seaks LL.B. ’34 Professor of Law, says Abrams impressed the committee not only by asking thoughtful questions, but also by offering sound judgments quickly and decisively. It was clear that she was both a “people person” and a natural leader who could make tough decisions and get things done.
“When Kerry talked about her experiences at UVA, her leadership style really came through,” says Lemos, who Abrams tapped to be senior associate dean for faculty and research. “She talked about listening and learning, building personal relationships, and empowering people — there was all this warmth and humanity and empathy. But it was also clear that she didn’t shy away from solving hard problems, and that once she had learned about an issue she was ready to tackle it head-on.”
The search committee also appreciated Abrams’ interdisciplinary perspective, on display both in her boundary-crossing scholarship and during her time in the UVA administration, Helfer says. Having worked for Simon as well as his successor as provost, former Pratt School of Engineering Dean Thomas C. Katsouleas, she knew of Duke’s collaborative culture and willingness to break down disciplinary barriers. She also spoke of the great opportunities these traits afford the Law School to advance its mission and demonstrate higher education’s value to the general public.
The priorities she voiced during her interviews also aligned with the Law School’s direction under Levi and prior deans. She saw the need to address the changing legal profession, especially the impact that technology is having on the jobs of young lawyers. She wanted to help professors expand the reach of their scholarship through collaborations with colleagues in other disciplines, such as medicine, the social sciences, and engineering, and recruit new scholars to the faculty who are recognized leaders in their ﬁelds. She wanted to build on Duke’s reputation as a hub of innovation to develop new curricula and research in areas such as cybersecurity, data privacy, ﬁnancial technology, and entrepreneurship. She wanted to expand the use of experiential learning to help students develop professional skills that employers say are necessary for success. And she wanted to grow opportunities for students to engage with their communities through pro bono service and to pursue public interest careers.
“She has been a full-time scholar on a law school faculty but she also has extensive experience in higher university administration,” says Helfer. “That combination was a sweet spot for the committee,” says Helfer.
For Abrams, who was announced as dean on Feb. 2, the transition to Duke has been a slow-moving whirlwind. She and Garrett, who was named the L. Neil Williams, Jr. Professor of Law, moved their family to Durham in June. She began her listening tour even before that, meeting with each member of the Law School’s resident faculty and much of the senior staff during the spring and early summer. She also spoke at receptions for admitted students in New York and Washington and attended the spring meetings of the Law School’s leadership boards, reunion, and graduation. She plans to take a two-year hiatus from teaching but is looking forward to engaging with students in other ways.
“Kerry is a quick study and already has great insight into the Law School’s potential within the university,” says Levi. “She will help us continue on the great trajectory that we have been on for the last 25 years.”